5 Steps to Confidently Care for Bermuda Lawns in Oklahoma

Brendon Willis
Bermuda Grass

Have or Want Bermuda Grass? Here’s How To Care For A Bermuda Lawn

Bermuda grass is the king of lawns in Oklahoma, because it comes seeded in most lawns as the standard. Bermuda is a dense, light green grass, that looks and feels like a supportive, low-pile carpet. 

Just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s boring. Bermuda grass lawn looks impressive when it’s properly maintained, and mowed at the right height. Although it does brown in the winter, this grass is sturdy, hearty grass that doesn’t need much babying like other grass types. It’s the best turf to handle Oklahoma’s weather.

  1. About Bermuda Grass
  2. Establishing a Bermuda Lawn
  3. Watering a Bermuda Lawn
  4. Properly mow a Bermuda Lawn
  5. Fertilizing a Bermuda Lawn
  6. Controlling weeds in a Bermuda Lawn

About Bermuda Grass Lawns

  • Very dense if healthy
  • Self-recovering & self-thickening
  • Extremely good at drought recovery
  • Inexpensive to buy, somewhat easy to maintain
  • Less water requirements than Zoysia or Fescue

How to Confidently Establish a Bermuda Lawn in Oklahoma

To establish Bermuda grass, you’ll want to install sod, sprigs, or plugs during the summer months. Bermuda can also be seeded but it tends to be a bit more difficult as it takes a while to germinate and needs to be kept moist until germination. Plus, it needs to be seeded in May, June, or July when it tends to be quite difficult to water the lawn. You’ll want to follow the seeding instructions for the specific brand of seed purchased.

Healthy Bermuda grass will self-thicken itself so there’s no reason to overseed a Bermuda lawn with more Bermuda seed. If your Bermuda lawn is thin, it could be because of something else.

How to Correctly Water a Bermuda Lawn in Oklahoma

Water management is the most important aspect of maintaining Bermuda grass. It’s easy to underwater or even overwater your lawn. Too little water stunts the growth and makes the grass turn brown, while overwatering can lead to less nutrients being absorbed by the roots of the grass, stunted growth, disease, discoloration, and more. 

The optimal watering schedule for a Bermuda lawn is to water fewer days per week, but for a longer period of time each day. The idea here is to get the water to penetrate deeply into the soil. Doing this allows roots to grow deeper, resulting in a stronger anchor for your grass, and greater drought tolerance. Of course, you’ll want to adjust your watering schedule based on rain. A good rule of thumb is to water your lawn when blades of grass don’t bounce back after you walk through your lawn.   

Spray vs rotor sprinkler system
Rotor heads vs spray heads

NOTE: These time are approximate and can vary greatly depending on soil type, sprinkler nozzle type, slope, wind, rain, drainage, and shade.

For sprinkler system zones with “spray” nozzles, typically watering 10 minutes as-needed in the cooler months and 10-12 minutes once every day or two in the hotter months will be adequate.

For zones with “rotor” nozzles, try 15 minutes per zone in the cooler months and 25-30 minutes per zone in the hotter months.

How to Properly Mow a Bermuda Lawn in Oklahoma

Short and sweet length makes the most aesthetic option for Bermuda grass. Mowing at a height of 1.5 to 2.5 inches is optimal for the typical home lawn. However, the shorter you can mow bermuda (without scalping all the green off) the better it will look.

It’s tempting to go for the lengthy Fescue look with Bermuda, but when Bermuda grass gets too long, it grows into a prickly, woody, brownish turf. It will look thin, wispy, and not as green as it could with a shorter cut. If your Bermuda lawn is thin, try mowing shorter.

How to Properly Fertilize a Bermuda Lawn in Oklahoma

If you’ve done a soil test on your lawn within the last few years, you can fertilize based on those results. However, a well-balanced general lawn fertilizer will be ok. April through August are the best months for fertilizing a Bermuda lawn.

Once your lawn begins to come out of dormancy in April, hit it with a quick release of ammonium sulfate fertilizer to help wake it up. Then, for summer months, try and find a fertilizer that has at least 50 percent slow release nutrients. This will ensure the lawn stays healthy for 4-6 weeks until you fertilize again. 

Be very cautious of high-nitrogen fertilizers in the late summer and fall as they will increase the likelihood of spring-dead-spot disease. It’s best to switch to a winterizer fertilizer in late August.

How to Effectively Control Weeds in Bermuda Lawns in Oklahoma

For overall weed prevention, using a high quality a pre-emergent herbicide will be your best tool. Pre-emergents will prevent almost all weeds from coming in. Apply pre-emergent in the spring around April 15th and in fall around September 15th.

For killing weeds that are already growing, weed-killers will be your best tool. These are called “post-emergent” herbicides. Apply these when you see the weeds growing. You’ll have better results with post-emergent herbicides before the weeds get mature. Be careful with a newly established lawn and read the label of your herbicides prior to applying them. 

Hopefully this bermuda grass guide helped! 

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